Muscat, Oman, Feb 29: Former champion Joost Luiten was part of a six way tie for the lead after 54 holes as the Oman Open got set for a Sunday shootout at Al Mouj Golf.
The Dutchman, who won the inaugural event in 2018, had a bogey free 67 on day three and moved him to 11 under but he had plenty of company at the top of the leaderboard.
Finnish rookie Sami Valimaki carded a stunning 64, one shot better than countryman Mikko Korhonen who was also at 11 under.
England’s Callum Shinkwin bogeyed the last in his 66 to drop out of the solo lead, with South African Brandon Stone carding a 67 and Danish teenager Rasmus Højgaard signing for a 70 to complete the leading six pack.
India’s lone man in the weekend field, SSP Chawrasia shot even par 72 with three birdies and three bogeys to stay at one-under and is Tied-52nd. Shubhankar Sharma and Gaganjeet Bhullar missed the cut.
Italian Guido Migliozzi was at ten under, a shot clear of French duo Adrian Saddier and Clément Sordet, and England’s Jordan Smith.
Stephen Gallacher (74) dropped to T-12 along with Robert Rock (71), Martin Kaymer (67) and Nicolas Colsaerts (73).
Luiten is a six time European Tour winner and there is plenty more winning pedigree in the leading group, with Stone’s three victories including a Rolex Series triumph in Scotland in 2018.
Korhonen has two victories to his name, while Højgaard became the third youngest winner in European Tour history when he lifted the trophy at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open earlier this season.
Shinkwin is looking for his first title after bogeying the last and losing in a play-off at the 2017 Scottish Open, and Valimaki is playing just his sixth European Tour event after coming through the Qualifying School.
Overnight leaders Højgaard and Stephen Gallacher were the early pacesetters and Gallacher led at the turn after birdies on the second and fifth but Shinkwin made a big move through the field. Later Gallacher fell back but Hojgaard stayed in the lead pack.